Carles Edwin Benham.

Essex ballads : and other poems online

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An' cartsey. Lor, I'd like to gim a shaike.

D'yer think the Aingels sing A/imen? Not thay,
An' when these ere are dead an' gone th'll see,

Th'll give it to 'em straight up there, th'll say,
" You ent a go'n to sing along o' we."

I ent owd-fashioned, nao, I loike to see

The young uns comin' on. But now-a-days
They say an' do sich things git over me,
An ' I carnt howd 'ith these new-fangled ways.

32 (&&$cx $alla&$



[A Ballad ok Logic]

Cummisherners thiiy call thcirsels, I'm blaovved !

A comin' roun' to see why farms don' pay!
I could a towd '"em what thay never knaowed,

Tellyerferw y — acos I could, tha's why.

One of 'em come to Master at the Hall,
An' arst all manner stuff, and writ it down.

A great owd book he'd got, to howd it all,
An' take it up to thay in Lunnon town.

Cummish'ner, I'd cummish'nerhim, I would.

I could a made he look, 1 could to-day.
What do he knaow ? He carnt do we nao good,

Tellyerferwy — acos he carnt, tha's why.

mtfc otljev* ty dents. 33

Nex' day there's Master stood we chaps a drink.

" Dessay you think that bloke a fool ? " he say.
"Think?'' I says, '' nao, sir, we don' want to think,

Tellyerferwy — acos we knaow, tha's why."

" Protecshun," Master say, " tha's what we want,
A forty-shillun duty, chaps, 'ud pay.''

But he ont get it — lay yer sixpence on 't.
Tellyerferwy — acos he ont, tha's why.

But what a thing that is for me an' you,
Free Traide— tha's ruination, Master say,

Tha's no good saying what they oughter do.
Tellyerferwy — 'cos do they don't, tha's why.

I wish as Master were our Member ; lor,
He'd 1'arn 'em suffen, wouldn't he, my eye ?

Free traiders ! I guess he'd give thay what for,
Tellyerferwy — he"d Free traide them, tha's why.

He could a maide owd Harc't set up straight.

He could a twisted he about some tune,
Saime as he did them chaps what come an' praite

Up on the Green one evenin'-time las' June.

34 CBsscv gctUabe

He says, says he, '' You move that ere red wan
Off o' my fild, don't I'll larn you who's who.

Look slippy now, and take that off my Ian',
Tellyerferwy," he say. " 'cos don't I do."

Look at that clock ! Another glass o' stout ?

I thank y' sir, I doubt we dussen stay.
Do, I shoon' mind, but there, we'd best clear out,

Tellyerferwy — acos o' Bruce, tha's why.



anb tftijev yoctttB. 25


[A Ballad of the Tendring Hunored.]

I see young Nat come outer his,

As I come outer mine,
" An' where you off to, booy ? " I sez,

" You're dressed up somethin' fine ! "

" I'm gooin' by the trine," he say,

'' In harf an hour or sao,
" I'm goon to Caochester to-day,"

He say, " if you must knaow."

He'd never bin to Caochester !

He hadn't, I'll be boun.'
Well, tha's a caution, ent it, sir,

He'd never sin the town !

36 (&&*ex *3aUnbs

He oughter went next Saddy, sir,

When I shall be a goon,
For tha's the day for Caochester —

A Saddy arternoon.

I towd em so, " You want to gao

A market day," sez I,
' To see the people ; you don' knaou

The crowds an' crowds," I say.

'• An' all them little stalls an' that,

Along the High Street, lor,
I see" I sez, sez I, " young Nat.

You never bin afore.

" There's rabbuts, birds, an' guinea pigs,

An' sweets o' every kind,
An' knives and tools an' thingmijigs—

All mann'r o' sorts you'll find.

"An' fish an' 'ysters— don't they scent?

An' how them chaps can shout !
An' wilks all ready, so they cut

No trouble gitten out.

uut» otljet* ^Tocms.

" An' where S'n Runnel's was, a lot

C cheap jacks in a ring
Keep sellin' I earn tell yer wot —

Why every mortal thing.

" Yes, tha's the diiy to see the town

Along o' all yer pals.
An' keep a walkin' up an' down

An' talkin' to the gals."

" Well, I earn stop," he say, " good luck ! "

An off goo Marster Nat.
He got a peacock's feather stuck

Jes so like in his hat.

" Well, hurry up," I sez, sez I.

An' take care o' yersel.
You got no time to lose, good-bye,

Goo'-bye, an' fare ye well.

" There come the trine, you're all behin',

You'd best be starten forth,
An' you git out at Buttles, min',

Don't vou'll goo roun' the North ! "

38 (&&BCX *3rtUrtb«5



[A Ballad of Mournfulness.]

Howd me up a little, Martha, so as I can look around ;
Lor, I feel that cowd an' weak, jes' wrap my showders in

your gownd.
I'm a dyin', ent I, Martha ? I don't scarcely recollec'
Who I be or where I bin to— I'm a dyin' I expec'.

Guess I bin a dreamin', Martha, what I min I thought

jes now
I were in the Warkus, wond'rin when I got in there an'

Oo, that wor a laonesome feelin', wonnerful good news-

that seem
When I knaow tha's all onreal — that were nahthin but a


cmfc otljev foetus. 39

Howd me up a minute, Martha, open that ere winder

Op' it wider, ah, tha's better, so I git a breath o' air,
So I see the fiel's an' that, an' knaow I ent a dreamin'

So I knaow that ent the Warkus, where I be a lyra' ill.

I'm a dyin', ent I, Martha ? Howd my han' and don't

you gao.
Don' keep on a cryin', missus, you've no call for frettin'

Cam' think what'll come o' you, though, poor owd gal,

when I be gone.
Don' keep on a cryin', Martha ; I earn bear you taikin'


Martha, if I goo to-night, remember me upon yer knees.
Pray for me, an' I say, Martha, min' you think an' tell

the bees.
Don't tha's sartin sure to bring some trouble to yer, I'm

Whisper to 'em softly, Martha,saime as when poor Emmie


40 (JBsse^ ^rtUabs

Lor, I do feel drefful queer, I reckon I shall goo to-

I can feel m'self a sinkin', I sharn see the mornin' light.

Howd me up a little, Martha, so I git a breath o' air.

Tha's more easy-like ; now Martha, let me try an' say a


" God A'mighty, I'm a dyin" ; tek I pray, my saoul to

Mebbe I ha' bin a bad un, do I hop' to be forgiven.
Lord, I knaow I bin a bad un, an' I knaow I dussent

But I ent bin in the public for a twelve- m'nth as Thou


" God A'mighty, tell my darter Emmie up in heaven with

I'm a comin' up 'longside her, evermore to live with she,
Tell her, Lord, I bin as saober these twelve months as

any livin' ;
Don't she on' believe her father ever coul a bin for-

mib otljcv ^Tcumts. 41

" Lord, I pray look arter Martha, till from this ere warld

she gao,
Don't I earn see who's to help her, poor owd gal, when

I'm laid laow,
'Less it be the rev'rent Johnson ; Lord, Thou knaowest

him I guess —
Him what maide me leave the drinkin', an' give Martha

that owd dress.

"Lord I dew believe in Him who died upon the cross for

Which I thank 'm, God A'mighty; tell him sao, I priiy

from me,
I earn say n' more, I fare to feel as pow'rless as a mouse,
But look arter poor owd Martha, don't she'll goo 'ithin the


4 2

(&a*cx gallab*

aitb otljev $toeme. 43



When William the Second was King- of this land
The people of Colchester cleverly planned
A request that a man who was William's tight hand,
Named Eudo, a Norman, as I understand,
Should at once be sent down to govern the town,
Because they knew well that that man of renown,
Who was truer than steel, could do a good deal
To deliver the town from stern tyranny's heel.
For in Colchester, certainly, things had been rather
Too hot in the days of King Rufus's father.

Their humble petition they made with submission,
And the King granted all without any condition.

44 (&*&cx glrtUitbs

So Eudo came down, and was hailed in the town

With hip, hip, hurrahs from papas and mammas,

And the little one's shoutings the police could not drown.

Things went very well, so the chroniclers tell,
And the town was quite happy, for

Eudo the Dapifer —
Such was his title— relieved the distressed
And eased all the oppressed,
And removed from folk's backs full many a tax.
He built too, the Castle, and Moot Hall, and opposite,
Found for his own house, as he thought, a proper site,
And then he revolved how he best could provide
For the wealth of the soul which he carried inside.

To the south of the town lived a man in a gown

Named Siric, a priest of unwonted renown,

For near his house stood a Church built of wood,

A wonderful place for miraculous grace.

And there in dark nights were seen heavenly lights,

And though some said " Absurd," others vowed they had

Strange voices when no one there uttered a word.
And here in this Church of St. John, on a day

anb otljcr ^iUteuts. 45

It happened a certain poor man went to pray,

A man who was forced, by the King's own command,

To wear iron shackles on foot and on hand,

And there, on the feast of St. John, with a clang

His fetters went flying and made such a bang

That it quite put a stop to the hymn the choir sang,

And the whole of the town with the miracle rang.

Be all this as it might, Eudo thought that no site

In the whole of the town was so suitable quite

For a monastery's wa'ls, and no saint could be bettered

As patron, than he who this man had unfettered.

So he worked with a will, and by next year the whole

Of the work was achieved for the good of his soul.

Two monks he placed there, the stipend to share,

And masses to say by night and by day,

And to watch and to pray in the regular way,

And a smile of beatified radiance stole

O'er his face, and his eyes gave a heavenward roll

As he piously sighed, " Well, at least I have tried

My best to provide
From my bodily wealth for the wealth of my soul."

4 6 ©ssc.v £UaUai>$

But, alas, those two monks turned out terrible skunks,

And grumbled and swore they were scantily fed ;

They complained that the cheese was too hard, and the

Was too stale, and the butter was rancid, they said,
And one of them wanted a nice feather bed.
But Eudo gave both monks a " sacking " instead,
And appointed two more, who were worse than before,
For they worried poor Eudo by night and by day,
And struck, as we say, for an increase of pay,
Till he wished that he never had made the endeavour
To work for the good of his soul in this way.

At last he gave over the whole of his care
To Stephen, the Abbat of York, with a prayer
That he kindly would manage the wretched affair,
And quickly the Abbat made everything square.
Twelve monks he installed and another one called,
" By permission," a prior, a title much higher,
In fact, it's a sort of monastic esquire.
In time they elected one monk as their abbat,
Choosing one who was quite the least likely to grab at
The wealth of the place — not a man of capacity,

anh tftljcv yocms. 47

But — to quote from Morant — "of no worldly sagacity.''
Yet, alas for poor Eudo, the good of his soul
Still appeared to be just as far off as the Pole,
For all sorts of disputes with the Abbat arose,
And at last he resigned, and then nobody knows
What fresh troubles arose, which certainly shows
That the soul of poor Eudo could find no repose.

The good man at last to the spirit-world passed,

And there let us hope he attained to a goal

Where at length he discovered true wealth for his soul.

And his dying request was that all he loved best

Should be by the monks of the Abbey possessed.

He bequeathed them his ring with a topaz enshrined,

And a gold covered-cup to be used when they dined,

And presents of money and presents of kind,

And his mule and his horse to their care he consigned.

Then calmly to Heaven his spirit resigned.

And he begged they would pray both by night and by day,

And masses would say, in the regular way,

For what he in vain had been seeking the whole

Of his life -the repose and the good of his soul.

48 <B$$ex ^ttUrtbs


Let all who aspire to a noble desire

For the good of their souls, recollect they require

No mortar and bricks for their sin,
Nor by building outside can they ever provide

For the soul that is builded within.

rtttfr tftljcx* -JiTotms, 49


*#* In the year 1669 there was published in London, by Peter Lillicrap,
a strange pamphlet entitled "The Flying Serpent, or Strange News out
of Essex, being a true relation of a monstrous Serpent, which hat
divers times been seen at a parish called Henham-on-the-Mount, within
four miles of Saffron Walden ; showing the length, proportion, and
bigness of the Serpent, the place where it commonly lurks, and what
means have been used to kill it."

It is Christmas night, and the yule log bright

Sinks on the hearth in its own red light,

The candles burn in their sockets low ;

The children must now to their slumbers go,

To dream of holly and mistletoe.

" But stay, oh Stay, J ' the children say,

We cannot yet be sent away.

Till grandpapa there in his old arm chair

Tells us a story, we all declare

50 <&&&ex $ttUab»

We'll none of us set a foot on the stair."

" Ah well, ah well, a tale I'll tell,

So sit down and listen, Tom, Harry, and Nell,

And Sarah, and Bobby, and Johnny as well ;

You must all come near, and you all shall hear

The tale that I tell to you every year."

Then the children gathered and shrieked with glee,

And the youngest sat on her grandpa's knee.

" Yes, tell us that story, please, grandpa, dear,

The story you tell to us every year."

*• Well, well, my children, 'twas long ago,

When I was no bigger than Tom, you know,

That my grandfather sat in his old arm chair,

With me at his feet, as it might be there,

And the tale that he told me, I tell to you

A tale that is wonderful, strange, and true."

" Hurrah, hurrah, for Grandpapa ! "

And then in a trice as still as mice

To hear the old story for ever new—

4 ' The tale which your grandpapa told to you,

The tale that is wonderful, strange, and true.'

" Oh, well my dears, it's a hundred years

Since my grandfather came from the Northern shires

mtfc otljev IJHoems. 51

To settle in Essex by Henham Hill,

In the house where your cousins are living still,

Though the village is not what it used to be

When I went to stay there in '43,

The old ones are dead, and the young ones have fled

To the towns and cities for want of bread.

Now at Henham Hill you must know, my dears,

When my grandfather came from the Northern shires,

The village was all in a state of fright

Because of a terrible dragon's might.

A horrible creature that none could kill,

That lurked in Birch Wood by Henham Hill.

It was nine feet long and uncommonly strong,

It had scales like a snake and teeth like a rake,

And great rolling eyes very much wide awake ;

It had wings like a bird, and the noise it would make

Was enough to cause even the boldest to shake.

It lived in Birch Wood (where the Lodge Farm then

And forth from its lair it would creep through the trees,
With a rustling and roaring that made your blood freeze.
J Twas a horrible creature that none could kill,
That dragon that terrified Henham-on-Hill,

52 (&&&cx gallafrs

The women and children ne'er ventured to roam

By themselves after dark ; ay, and even at home

The youngsters would lie half the night wide awake

And scream that they saw the great dragon-shaped snake

Fly up on its wings to the window, and glare

With its hideous eyes, the poor children to scare.

One morning my grandfather out at his work,

Caught sight of the serpent, which sprung with a jerk

From over the hedge but a few feet away.

On the grass just before him the strange monster lay,

And rolled itself o'er in the sun with a snore

Which sounded, he said, like an elephant's roar.

Then all of a sudden the beast as it lay,

Caught sight of my grandfather coming that way,

It lifted its head and it goggled its eyes,

And it opened a mouth of a terrible size ;

And its gums, like a sheath, covered sharp rows of teeth.

It stood like a cobra erect on the heath,

With a body all speckled with spots underneath.

To the Lodge ran my grandfather straight for a gun

As quickly as ever his two legs could run ;

But when he came back and returned to the spot,

With his musket all loaded with powder and shot,

mtfc tftliev ^itoimts, 53

The dragon had fled, and was rustling away

To the depth of the wood where in ambush it lay,

And again and again on many a day

The m' nster green, with its scaly sheen,

In the woods was seen,

With its wings and paws tipped with terrible claws.

But in vain the villagers tried to take

The life of that villainous dragon-snake,

They went with their guns in their two's and their

three's ;
They beat the bushes, they climbed the trees,
They searched the copses, they clubbed the cover,
And looked for its tracks in the grass and the clover,
The wheat and the barley, the oats and the stover,
But nothing, when armed, could they ever discover ;
And from time to time the report went round
That the snake had been seen and its hole been found,
But whether it died or was killed at length,
Or whether it still lives there in strength,
Hiding away from the sight of man,
I cannot tell you, and nobody can,
So now away, my children gay,
For the fire is out, and the night grows chill,

5 4 (&&aex $allab*

You must off to bed, to dream, if you will,
Of the wonderful dragon of Henham Hill,
Which nobody ever was able to kill,
And for ought I know may be living still.

tut** otljer ^oeme. 55


[Reprinted from: Harper's Magazine by Kind Permission
of Messrs Harper & Brothers.]

Who is that man who sits and bites
His pen with aspect solemn ?

He is the Funny Man, who writes
The weekly Comic Column.

By day he scarce can keep awake

At night he cannot rest,
His meals he hardly dares to take —

He jests, he can't digest.

His hair, though not with years, is white ;

His cheek is wan and pale,
And all with seeking day and night

For jokes that are not stale.

5& (&&*cx ^rtllaba

His joys are few ; the chiefestone

Is when by luck a word
Suggests to him a novel pun

His readers haven't heard. • - • «

And when a Yankee joke he sees

In some old book, well then
Perhaps he gains a moment's ease,

And makes it do again.

The thought that chiefly makes him sigh

Is that a time must come
When jokes extinct like mammoths lie, "

And jukers must be dumb.

When every quip to death is done,

And every crank is told,
When men have printed every pun,

And every joke is old.

■ When nought in Heaven or earth or sea
Has not been turned to chaff,
And not a single oddity
Is left to make us laugh.


mtfc x»tljet* ^Toems. 57

[A Song of Incongruity.]

" I muse of my loved one, sighing''
( That wretched ■piano's fiat /)

'" For love of her soul I am dying"
(In an evening dress cravat).

" My heart it is wildly beating"
{But I musrit crush this bud)

" As I think of our last fond meeting ''
(And I flash my diamond stud).

" I feed on my love's sweet glances ! '
{And between the so?igs on stout)

" Her voice all my thoughts entrances"
(That piano's awjully out).

5 8 ©0BC3C ^allafc*

" With a passion that's wild and ceaseless

I tread the weary world "
( With a shirt front smooth and creaseless

And moustaches soaped and curled).

•' I know not, alas, I know not
If we two shall meet once more ;

I weep "—(though my tears they flow not
For I hear the cry " Encore ").


cmfc otljet* |ilc»cut6. 59


A Problem of the Unknowable.

[Reprinted from Golden Gates.]

" For, observe, though there is a greatest Fool, as a superlative of every
kind ; and the most Foolish man in the Earth is now indubitably living
and breathing, and did this morning or lately eat breakfast, and is even
now digesting the same; and looks out on the world with his dim horn-
eyes and inwardly forms some unspeakable theory thereof; yet where
shall the authentically Fxisting be personally met with? " y

Carlvle's Miscellanies Vol. iv. " Biography."

Beneath the fog that hangs o'er London town

Are many fools of varying degrees,
And one must be the most consummate Clown,

The biggest Blockhead out of all of these.

Whatever depth of folly may invest

The others' brains, his are more addled still.

Whatever nonsense occupies the rest,
More vapid fancies yet his cranium fill.

60 ©«sc^c £3alUtt»a

His vacant face is more a perfect blank

Than any dunce's sent to town to school ;
No idiot or statesman but may thank
" His* stars he is not such an utter Fool.

We know not his address nor e'en his name,
Though in directories both, mayhap, appear,

And many a ledger may contain a claim

Against this Uunderliead for meat and beer.

Perchance each day some postman more than once
Brings him prospectuses to feed his brain.

Oh ! those who send to such a blithering Dunce,
Can it be true that they are less inane?

This veriest Jackass, who must somewhere be,
Though who and where he is we cannot tell ;

Is it this Ass that in philosophy

The learned call the Great Unknowable ?


tutt* otljev ^locms* 61

[What the Editot said to the Psalmist ]

Ask me not, in mournful queries,
Why the verses that you send

Month by month, in constant series,
Are declined with thanks, my friend.

' ; Want of space — " you don't believe it ?

Well, we own that was a lie.
Please in confidence receive it,

And we'll tell you really why.

Faultless are your lines in rhythm,
All your rhymes are quite complete,

Nothing is the matter with them,
Every verse is honey-sweet.

62 (&&&ex gallab#

In the poet's proud profession
What you lack is— can't you guess ?

You're a genius at expression,
But— you've nothing to express.

anb tftJjev tyoems. 63

[Reprinted from the Professional World.]

There's music everywhere !
Thou canst not tread upon a pointed pin
But Nature's music doth at once begin
With plaintive notes to tremble through the air.

There's music everywhere !

Thou canst not drop a boot-jack on thy toe
But one deep note unconsciously will flow
Forth from thy lips, and echo up the stair —
There's music everywhere !

Thou canst not knock a nail into the wall
But lo, the hammer on thy thumb will fall,
And Nature's treble rends the quivering air —
There's music everywhere !

64 <, ©s&e^ glitUafcs

Thou canst not rest at night upon thy bed,
But lo, among the chimneys overhead
Two cats, or three, sing out in chorus there -
There's mew-sic everywhere !

Thou canst not to the cobbler's go, to choose
A good substantial pair of leather shoes,
But lo, on tip-toe walking up the stair —
There's music everywhere ! •

Thou canst not take thy babe into thine arms,
And try to still its infantile alarms.
But music greets thee from thy son and heir—
There's music everywhere !

Thou canst not step upon a puppy's tail,

Or drop hot wax upon thy finger-nail,

Or lift the boiling kettle from its stand,

Or take a roasting chestnut in thy hand,

Or let the mouse run scampering from .the trap,

Or kill a pig, or burst a shoulder strap,

Or rouse a cockroach when a lady's nigh,

llllb OtljeV cJlUuMltS. 65

Or get the soap into a youngster's eye,
Or stick a needle upright in a chair,
But music — Nature's music— rends the air.
There's music everywhere.

66 <&&sex gallaba


In a honey flower all night in bliss

There slept a bumble-bee.
*' I can very well do with a drink from this

When the morning breaks," said she.
But a spider was up before she woke

And caught the bumble-bee.

And the spider hung her in his net

On one of the corner pegs,
" She's mine for supper," said he, " you bet,

As certain as eggs are eggs."
But a frog walked round in the afternoon

And grabbed the spider's legs.

mtfc tftljev tyoema. 67

The frog walked off to a neighbouring pond

And croaked in joyous glee,
As he said to his wife and his children fond,

" A spider, my dears, for tea ! "
But a duck dived down and gripped his neck —
" A nice fat frog," said she.

•" Quack-a-quack, you are caught,Mr. Frog,"said the duck,

"You will do for my duckling son ;
I reckon I'm in for a stroke of luck

To have caught such a big fat one."
When up came I in a velvet coat,

And pop went my long gun.

So the duck fell dead. I picked her up,


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